How do companies like Nintendo and CD Projekt Red approach crunch?
"It can be a difficult decision to make, but it's a decision that we wind up making again and again.”
-Cyberpunk 2077 quest designer Patrick Mills shares CD Projekt Red's history with crunch.
Crunch is a topic that comes up again and again in the game industry, but the practices of cramming in long hours to meet a milestone or deadline still seem as prominent as ever. To explore why that is, and the varied opinions on the necessity of crunch, Waypoint made a point to ask each developer interviewed by the site during E3 for their opinions on crunch, work-life balance, and other labor-related issues.
Waypoint’s article itself offers perspectives and opinions on crunch from individual developers and, in some cases, company leadership, from studios big and small. Because of that, the story is an important read for other devs to help inform their own feelings on crunch and its place, if any, in game development.
Nintendo of America CEO and president Reggie Fils-Aimé was one of the executives that weighed in on crunch policies for the story, saying that Nintendo largely prefers to hire contract employees to help the development team get through a period of crunch without disrupting their work-life-balance.
“That's is our course of business. That's the way we operate,” Fils-Amié told Waypoint. “And so we're not asking people to go for a couple days without sleep. We're not asking people to ignore their family and friends and their social life. We're not asking people to do things that are unhealthy. That is not our approach.”
Others, like Dying Light 2 creative director Adrian Ciszewski, believe that crunch is an inevitability for those working in the game industry. He explains that, in the case of Dying Light 2’s E3 demo, which he says was created in 3 weeks, or other “occasional” moments in production, a short burst of crunch is to be expected.
“So if there’s something like E3 or a huge milestone, like a release date very soon, yeah, we should kind of think there will be a crunch, because it's really hard to avoid,” said Ciszewski.
“...In my perspective, it's not the problem of bad planning at all,” said Ciszewski.” Sometimes, of course, people do some bad planning, and we need to do the work all over again, and therefore they crunch. But the problem is that people... Crunching in our company is actually something that all of the workers think that they need to do right now, because they want to have their work look better, you know? There always can be improvements made, so it's more about that."
Comments from the developers of games like Rage 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Tunic, Control, Battlefield V, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, The Division 2, Total War: Three Kingdoms, and Hitman 2 can be found in the full feature over on Waypoint.